WATCH: Child car seats - All you need to know

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 SAFETY FIRST: Make sure your car seat is secure and that your child is firmly strapped-in. Image: Janine Van der Post ~ Wheels24-Motoring

Cape Town - So you're headed off on a road trip - your car has been checked, holiday hotel rooms booked and the padkos is good to go... but do you have a car seat for your little one?

MasterDrive MD Eugene, Herbert, shares some vital information about car-seat safety ahead of the holiday season.

Herbert says when it comes to little children, we need to ensure that they're safe.

He said: "Here's an example of what a driver should do when securing their children in a vehicle. This baby seat is of a good quality and been looked after. It's secured by way of a three-point safety harness.

"The seat itself has an over shoulder harness so when the child is buckled in, it secures them correctly. And in addition here's lots of toys to keep the child occupied during the trip."

Watch the golden rules for car seats

Here are some car seat tips from WheelWell and MasterDrive:

  1 Always secure your child in a car seat when you drive anywhere. Most collisions occur 'just around the corner'.
  2 Vehicles are not a child-friendly zone, you have to make them so with car seats.
  3 Keep your child in the correct seat for as long as possible, but no longer. It is also dangerous to keep your child in a car seat that they have outgrown.
  4 A child outgrows their car seat when they have reached the upper weight margin of the seat OR their shoulder is higher than the highest belt adjustment of the seat.
  5 Harness belts must not be twisted or turned.
  6 Tighten the harness just right. The harness must fit snug – you must be able to fit your hand in between your child’s tummy and the buckle.
  7 The shoulder straps of the harness must never go over and below the shoulder. At shoulder height or slightly above shoulder is good.
  8 Car seats must be installed with a three-point seat belt unless they are specifically designed for a lap belt only installation.
  9 Make sure your seat has good side impact protection to protect your child’s head and neck.
  10 Car seats are used to minimise risk during a collision. They do not eliminate risk.
  11 You must adjust your driving when driving with children – remember you are already training them as drivers through your example. Be the driver you want your children to be. Drive lovingly
  12 Children under the age of 13 should ride on the back seat.
  13 The safest seating in the vehicle is at the back in the centre.
 14 Never use a car seat where there are air bags. Airbags deploy at 350km/h and can seriously injure your child and even cause death.
  15 Always install your car seat as per the directions in the manual.

Read more car-seat safety

What the law says

Arrive Alive editor Johan Jonck sheds some light on basic car seat safety and the law.

Wheels24: Can you be fined for not having a car seat in the car and what is the amount of the fine these days?
Jonck: Not for not having in you car – but for not having and not USING when you have a child pedestrian below three years of age. There is no mention of the specific amount but you be facing a fine between R500 and R1000.

W24: Up to what age should children be in a car seat?
Jonkie: Up to three-years of age – also check the guide on car seats, booster suits and child restraints 

W24: If you have three or more children young children do they ALL have to be in car seats?
Jonkie: They all have to be - all lives are precious! The law cannot address the problem on the size of your car, it is problematic – but the law is clear.

W24: Can car seats be placed in the front passenger seat? If so, what about large car seats which can’t be installed facing the rear?
Jonkie: They can – not recommended though – if they are to be on front seat then the airbags should be turned off.

WATCH: What happens to a child in a car crash?

Note this comprehensive guide from the World Health Organization. 

Win with General Tire: #SARoadTrip